Perceptions of Female Managers

Download Perceptions of Female Managers

Post on 26-Mar-2015




1 download

Embed Size (px)


<p>39</p> <p>Perceptions of Female Managers in Male-Dominated Industries: Effects of Gender Rarity, Performance, and Diversity JustificationShefali Patil1 New York University Abstract Two experimental studies were conducted to measure the effects of contextual and situational factors on employees perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors toward female managers in traditionally male-oriented jobs. Study 1 manipulated the contexts (gender rarity and diversity justification) of female perceivers through the mediating effect of social identity, while Study 2 manipulated the contexts (gender rarity and performance) of female and male targets. Results for Study 1 indicate that: (a) rare female perceivers are more likely to perceive female managers as being dominant (a stereotypically male trait) and adopt these traits, (b) rare female perceivers are also more likely to believe that they have to try harder to prove themselves in the organization, and (c) female perceivers in companies with legal compliance diversity justification are less likely to encourage prospective females to join the company. Results for Study 2 indicate that companies with female targets in positions of gender equality were assumed to have affirmative action hiring policies more often than companies with female targets in positions of gender rarity this provides evidence for future research about the types of organizations in which rarity evokes assumptions of preferential hiring. Overall, these studies contribute to the debate over the use of affirmative action policies by providing insight into1 Shefali Patil is a recent alumna of the undergraduate Stern School of Business, New York University, with a double major in Management &amp; Organizations and Marketing. This research paper was completed while she was a participant of the Senior Honors Program 2008. She would like to sincerely thank her advisor, Dr. Steven Blader, Associate Professor of Management, for his guidance, keen insights, strong enthusiasm, and honest advice throughout this research process. He was the first one to welcome her to the world of academic research, and she is very grateful to him for his continued efforts and encouragement. She would also like to thank her mother and father for their never-ending care and dedication, her brother, Akhil, for his love and companionship, and her roommate and close friend, Belig Borjiged, for her help with these studies and unflagging friendship. She greatly appreciates the constant support from the aforementioned people. Comments are welcome at</p> <p>40</p> <p>THE MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS</p> <p>the unintended consequences of their implementation. Results indicate that increasing female representation in male-typical professions is not enough to counter negative perceptions and behaviors toward traditionally underrepresented minorities equal gender representation must be coupled with a culture that believes that diversity is intrinsically advantageous, in order to mitigate some of the effects of implicit sex-based discrimination in the workplace.</p> <p>Perceptions of Female Managers in Male-Dominated Industries</p> <p>41</p> <p>IntroductionThe 1960s in American history marked the beginning of substantial changes to the organizational workplace with respect to gender equality. During those years, government and society worked to decrease discrimination against women in the workplace to create fair hiring policies and to provide equal employment opportunities. Some of these measures include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which barred discrimination in employment on the basis of sex and race, the Equal Pay Act, which made it illegal for employers to pay women less than men in the same jobs, and Title IX of the Education Amendment, which banned sex discrimination in schools. These efforts have had a major social and economic impact, as womens participation in the workplace has increased significantly. The most influential change, however, has come from the increase in womens participation in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as finance, science, and law, and from the increase in the number of degrees held by these women in preparation for these jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost three-quarters of women were employed in management, professional, sales, and office occupations in 2006, compared with about half of men.2 These professional fields are perhaps among the most powerful, lucrative, and highly regarded in the job market, and changes in these fields have created an advantageous opportunity for many women. While there has been a dramatic decrease in explicit sex-based discrimination, discrimination still continues in a less apparent yet almost equally harmful form. This implicit sex-based discrimination prevents women from fully benefiting from high-earning positions. Women, especially at the managerial level, continue to face numerous obstacles pertaining to matters, such as compensation, promotion, and representation, even years after the initial impact of the movement. For example, a woman still continues to earn seventy-three cents for every dollar that a man makes in the same job and position. One of the factors that underlie this particular form of sex-based discrimination involves the concept of perception. In organizational behavior theory, perception is defined as the way in which people observe, view, and interpret others and events around them to create a sense of order for their environment.3 Perception greatly affects the attitudes employees have of others and themselves, as well as the decisions they make within an organization. Biases, or systematic tendencies, often distort these perceptions, leading to inaccurate assessments and evaluations. With regard to women in the workplace, this gender-based biasing and stereotyping is one of the factors that prevents full2 United States Department of Labor., Accessed November 5, 2007. 3 Jennifer M. George &amp; Jones, G.R. Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior. 6th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.</p> <p>42</p> <p>THE MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS</p> <p>attainment of gender equality in male-dominated organizations. This paper, through the execution of two experimental studies, aims to examine the surrounding contexts that cause differences in perceptions. Study 1 focuses on the context of female perceivers in the workplace and their perceptions of female targets (the ones who are perceived). Study 2 focuses on the context of female targets and the consequent perceptions of both male and female perceivers.</p> <p>Study 1 Context of a Female Perceiver and Its Impact on Her Perceptions of Female Managers, and Attitudes and Behaviors in the Organization BackgroundOne of the prevalent forms of implicit sex-based discrimination that occurs in todays workplace involves the negative perceptions of female employees by other females in male-dominated organizations. For example, in an experimental study on interviews, it was found that female recruiters evaluated male applicants more favorably than female applicants, while no significant differentiation was found with male recruiters.4 Graves &amp; Powell suggested that this occurred because female recruiters, who were employees of a traditionally male profession, may have seen male applicants as more similar to themselves than female applicants; this perceived similarity affected their assessment of the applicants subjective qualifications. Additional phenomena can be found in prominent polls. A Work and Power survey of 60,000 participants conducted by MSNBC revealed that three out of four women expressed a preference to work for a man than a woman.5 Gallup Polls annual Work and Education survey revealed that half of all adult women in the United States prefer working for a man (compared to 45% of all men).6 These results are perhaps unexpected, as one might assume that women would prefer female bosses who could potentially be a source of help and advice for lower level female employees. The most surprising implication of this survey is that women themselves, who are fully aware of the disadvantages in the workplace, may be contributing to sex-based discrimination. Some of this behavior can be explained by the mediating effect of social4 Laura M. Graves &amp; Powell, G.N. The Effect of Sex Similarity on Recruiters Evaluations of Actual Applicants: a Test of the Similarity-attraction Paradigm. Personnel Psychology, 48 no. 1 (1995), 85-98. 5 Eve Tahmincioglu. Men rule at least in workplace attitudes. MSNBC. March 8, 2007. http://, Accessed December 2, 2007. 6 W.W. Simmons. When it Comes to Choosing a Boss, Americans Still Prefer Men. Gallup Website, When-Comes-Choosing-Boss-Americans-Still-Prefer-Men. aspx, Accessed January 14, 2008.</p> <p>Perceptions of Female Managers in Male-Dominated Industries</p> <p>43</p> <p>identity.7 Through this, people categorize and group themselves based on gender, race, ethnicity, profession, etc.8 The consequences of taking on a particular identity involve both positive and negative behaviors.9 A female recruiters preference for male applicants can indicate a distancing from the female identity and a stronger identification with the male group, a higher-status group in the male-dominated organization. The extent of a womans identification with a female social identity may therefore be related to perceptions and behaviors toward other females.</p> <p>HypothesesIt is hypothesized that the context or environment that a female perceiver is in may influence the extent to which she identifies with a female social identity, and thus her perceptions of other women. Two specific contextual factors that may influence how females react to other females are gender composition and justification of diversity measures. Parallel to the methods used in previous studies,10 both these contextual factors prime females by making their female identity salient, which may, in turn, influence the following perceptions she has about a female manager: the perceived competency, the perceived interpersonal hostility, the perceived communality (stereotypically female characteristics), the perceived agenticism (stereotypically male characteristics), the likeability of the female manager, and the satisfaction working under the female manager. Perceptions of the female manager can influence the perceivers behaviors and attitudes as well. Some of these include the likelihood she will seek the female manager out as a mentor and adopt her behaviors, the likelihood she will join a womens mentoring/networking program, her adoption of stereotypical masculine and feminine traits, and her general beliefs about female managers. These are all behaviors that can potentially affect the future success of the female in the organization. Pertaining to the first proposed contextual factor, gender composition, it is predicted that women in a situation of gender rarity (she is the only female within the organization) would identify less with the female identity because of her male-dominated surroundings. This distancing would make her the most likely to perceive female managers negatively. On the other hand, women in a situation of gender equality (equal number of women relative to men) would7 Henri Tajfel. Human Groups and Social Categories. London: Cambridge University Press, 1981. 8 Priscilla M. Elsass &amp; Graves, L.M. Demographic Diversity in Decision-making Groups: The Experience of Women and People of Color. The Academy of Management Review, 22 no. 4 (1997), 946973. 9 Laura M. Graves &amp; Powell, G.N. The Effect of Sex Similarity on Recruiters Evaluations of Actual Applicants: a Test of the Similarity-attraction Paradigm. Personnel Psychology, 48 no. 1 (1995), 85-98. 10 Margaret Shih, Pittinsky, T.L., &amp; Trahan, A. Domain-specific Effects of Stereotypes on Performance. Self and Identity, 5 (2006), 1-14.</p> <p>44</p> <p>THE MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS</p> <p>self-identify more with the female identity, decreasing negative perceptions towards other women: Hypothesis 1a: Women in situations of gender rarity will have more negative perceptions of a female manager, adopt less advantageous behaviors, and hold more negative attitudes than women in a situation of gender equality. The second proposed contextual factor aims to define the culture of the organization that the perceiver is in. Although culture is very broad, intricate, and hard to define, a sense of it can be revealed through an organizations justification/framing of diversity recruitment. There are two mainstream justifications that are currently used: the first is for business reasons, thereby implying that diversity gives the company a competitive advantage, and the second is commonly referred to as affirmative action programs, which are perceived to be implemented in order to comply with government regulations.11 Prior research has shown that members of an organization have more positive attitudes toward a program that is justified through competitive advantage rather than affirmative action.12 It is expected that, under the competitive advantage justification, women would be more likely to identify with the female identity because the female group would bring them higher status; it is, in essence, self-enhancement identification13 within an organization that values diversity. However, in an organization with affirmative action policies, or a culture of hiring females for the sake of avoiding legal penalties, a woman is perhaps more likely to move away from the disadvantaged female identity and embrace other identities.14 Hypothesis 1b: Women in an organization with affirmative action diversity measures will have more negative perceptions of a female manager, adopt less advantageous behaviors, and hold more negative attitudes than women in an organization with competitive advantage diversity measures. The interaction of the gender rarity and diversity justification measures provides an interesting complication in the matter. It is expected that becau11 O.C. Richard &amp; Kirby, S.L. Women Recruits Perceptions of Workforce Diversity Program Selection Decisions: A Procedural Justice Examination. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28 (1998), 183-188. 12 David L. Kidder, Lankau, M.J., Chrobat-Mason, D., Mollica, K.A., &amp; Friedman, R.A. Backlash Toward Diversity Initiatives: Examining the Impact of Diversity Program Justification, Personal, and Group Outcomes. International Journal of Conflict Management, 15 no. 1 (2004), 77-102. 13 Charles Stagnor &amp; Thompson E. Needs for Cognitive Economy and Self-enhancement as Unique Predictors of Intergroup Attitudes. European Journal of Social Psychology, 32 (2002), 563-575. 14 Steven Fein &amp; Spencer, S. J. Prejudice as Self-image Maintenance: Affirming the Self Through Derogating Others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73 (1997), 31-44.</p> <p>Perceptions of Female Mana...</p>


View more >